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Playing Big B's live-in girlfriend!

Shefali Shah, in a still from The Last Lear.
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September 09, 2008

Shefali Shah made us fall in love with her as Bhiku Matre's wife in Satya [Images], and the fiery cousin Ria in Monsoon Wedding [Images]. But the actress soon settled down to regular roles in films like Waqt: The Race Against Time, directed by her husband Vipul Shah.

Shefali's back on the marquee this Friday with Rituparno Ghosh's The Last Lear [Images], starring Amitabh Bachchan [Images], Preity Zinta [Images] and Arjun Rampal [Images]. The film is an adaptation of Utpal Dutt's play Aajker Shahjahan.

Nithya Ramani caught up with Shefali to know more.

What is The Last Lear about?

It is about an old man Harry (Bachchan), an actor who loves acting and theatre. But an incident makes him quit acting. Years later, he gets an offer to act in a film that Siddharth (Rampal) is making. What happens next forms the crux of the film.

I play Vandana, his live-in girlfriend. I don't know if he loves me. I go to watch his play and fall in love with him. I would call myself a complete woman. I am a romantic, impulsive and courageous -- I don't care about society. At the same time, my character has her own grievances, as she is living with an aging man. Her desires are not satisfied. She feels trapped.

How well do you relate yourself to Vandana?

I think we are more or less the same. I am a complete romantic too. I believe in love. I don't care for society. I am impulsive. So I can relate myself with the character pretty well.

Why is it that you have very few films to your credit?

I am lucky to have done whatever I wanted to do. There are not may offers pouring in, so I cannot really do much. I may not have a number of films to boast of but whatever I have done I am very proud of.

Don't you think this is a waste of talent?

Definitely. But I don't have people offering me scripts that I would like to do.

What kind of roles would you like to do?

The span of my role is immaterial. The context of the role and what it means in the script is very important. The impact my character can bring to the story makes a lot of difference. I am sure that I don't want to do 'age' roles.

What was it that attracted you to this script?

What is not there in this script? It has everything. Vandana is very strong and her personality is great. I don't see a reason for not doing this film. When I read the script, I was very happy to be a part of the film. Of course, the director matters a lot. Since this was Rituparno Ghosh, I couldn't have asked for anything better. It is the complexity and the simplicity of the character that attracted me to the script.

How was it working with Amitabh Bachchan?

He is a very easy man. He treats everyone as equals. I have worked with him in Waqt and it was great. He makes it very easy for a person to act with him. A man of his stature has no airs. It's great fun to work with him.

What about Preity Zinta and Arjun Rampal?

Preity plays Shabnam, a girl with a very turbulent personal life. As a person, she is very sweet to work with. We bonded very well on the sets. The film shows a very interesting relationship between Vandana and Shabnam.

What do you think about the trend of making films based on books, novels and plays?

If we have such rich literary works then why not? I think it is a good idea.

What is it you do when you are not acting?

I am a full time mother and a housewife. I don't think I need anything else to do.

Do you help your husband Vipul Shah with his films?

No. I don't interfere in his work.

What next?

I am doing a film directed by Banali Shukla. It is about two people from different backgrounds, who spend a day together.

Do you intend to get into directing?

I would love to. I have some stories in mind. Lets see what's in store.

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